Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on November 2, 2020.

Faces of Fire Returns

New campaign looks to show the human cost of electrical hazards


In September, NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors launched a new video campaign aimed at raising awareness of electrical hazards in the workplace and at home. The videos are part of the longstanding NFPA Faces of Fire campaign, which originally promoted the importance of fire sprinklers through the stories of burn survivors.

“Exposure to electricity poses a real injury risk to workers and the public,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Many people are not aware of electrical dangers, and yet each year people are injured or killed as a result of these hazards. The Faces of Fire Electrical campaign helps educate people about the true dangers of electricity and ways to prevent related tragedies from happening.”

One of the first two videos released in September features Samoana Matagi, a former power line worker who lost both his hands in 2010 after nearly 15,000 volts of electricity surged through his body during an accident. “We as power line workers need to see that a person standing up for safety is actually more macho than a person who’s not standing up for safety,” Matagi says in the video.

Watch all of the videos from the new campaign at

Study links wildfire smoke to increased
death rate in dialysis patients

A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in August found that wildfire smoke is associated with “an immediate and persistent increase in mortality” for patients receiving dialysis treatment for end-stage kidney failure.

The study paints a grim picture for the approximately 2 million people worldwide who currently receive dialysis treatment, as wildfire frequency and severity increase in many countries, including the United States. Specifically, the study found that an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of wildfire particulate matter in the air was associated with a 7 percent rise in mortality for dialysis patients.

The research helps shed light on some of the ways wildfire can indirectly affect human health—a topic not well-understood but one that was thrust into the public consciousness over the summer as thick smoke blanketed cities across the western US, causing many people to report breathing difficulties and eye irritation. According to the American Lung Association, wildfire smoke can cause breathing difficulty in healthy individuals even thousands of miles away from the fires.

NFPA asks for participation
in Needs Assessment survey

NFPA launched its fifth Needs Assessment of the United States Fire Service survey in September. All US fire departments are urged to participate, and the deadline for participation is January 1.

“The goal of the Needs Assessment project is to understand what is being asked of fire departments and if they have the needed resources necessary to carry out those tasks,” NFPA said in a statement. The study includes questions on PPE, apparatus and equipment, training, health and wellness, and cancer prevention, among other timely topics impacting the fire service. Findings from the survey serve multiple, critical purposes, such as generating statewide reports that can serve as a powerful tool for understanding and supporting a community’s needs, and helping the US Fire Administration and other fire service advocates create programs that best support communities’ needs.

NFPA conducts its Needs Assessment survey every four years. In 2016, more robust behavioral health services emerged as a pressing need among departments.

Learn more about the 2020 survey and how to participate by going to

California removes employment barrier
for former inmate firefighters

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing former prisoners who have served as inmate firefighters in the state to ask to have their criminal records expunged. The move aims to remove a critical barrier some ex-cons face in finding employment in the fire service after prison.

“After receiving valuable training and placing themselves in danger assisting firefighters to defend the life and property of Californians, incarcerated individual crew members face difficulty and obstacles in achieving employment due to their past criminal record,” the bill, authored by California assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, reads. “Due to their service to the state of California in protecting lives and property, those incarcerated individual crew members … should be granted special consideration relating to their underlying criminal conviction.” The bill excludes those convicted of violent or sex crimes from eligibility.

Each year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection employs thousands of non-violent prisoners to help prepare for and respond to the state’s wildfire season. Since the work can be dangerous and inmates are paid just a couple of dollars a day, the program has come under fire from critics who believe it amounts to little more than slave labor. Read NFPA Journal coverage of the controversy during the 2018 wildfire season at “Cellblock to Fireline,” at

ANGELO VERZONI is a staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top photograph: Getty Images